I found The Wealthy Barber on my dad’s night table when I was about 14 years old and decided to read it, cover to cover, because I thought it would give me a head start on my retirement savings plans. I spent a lot of time imagining all of the money I would have in the bank when I was ready to retire, if I saved just 10% of every paycheque I earned.
It’s a bit embarrassing to admit that I’m 31 now and I’ve only deposited $500 in my retirement savings account – embarrassing except for the fact that I spent that money having amazing, life-changing experiences instead. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely feel guilty when I see the meagre $500 sitting in the bank because I know that it wouldn’t be enough for me to spend even one month living in an old folks home, but it never seems like the right time to start trading my “now” time to earn my “later” money. I’ve also been questioning the whole idea of working and waiting ’til I’m 65 years old to start enjoying life – especially when there’s no guarantee that my investments will pan out or that I’ll live long enough to enjoy retirement anyway.
Doesn’t it seem a bit crazy to work super hard and wait so long to start living the life we really want? I keep wondering: What if there’s an alternative way to live that isn’t solely focused on the end game? It might be risky, but Mat and I want to see if we can find the perfect balance between fun and finances so that we can enjoy all of our years, not just the golden ones. Here’s a peek at our loose and unofficial lifestyle/retirement action plan:
- Work part time as much as possible so that we have extra time to do what we love, every single week.
- Do the things we love now so that we can relax without regret when we’re older.
- Keep our cost of living low to avoid the need for a substantial retirement fund.
- Avoid accumulating debt so that the money we earn isn’t eaten up by interest.
- Contribute to Employment Insurance (EI) every year so that we will have access to disability insurance in case one of us is injured, ill, or otherwise prevented from working at any point in our lives.
- Contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), which, if it is still around when we retire, will likely provide us with enough to live off of (if we maintain a simple, low-cost lifestyle).
- Save some money to top up our monthly CPP income in the event that the payments aren’t enough. We might invest this money in ethical mutual funds, gold and silver, black walnut trees – we’re still not sure!
- Invest in a small piece of land to help us spend less if/when we’re living on it, and get our money back when we sell it later.
Wouldn’t it be great if a plan like this could work? If we could work less, have more fun, and still have a secure future – all by living a simple life? The idea fills me with hope for the future…